When Katie Levesque asked me to review her line of jerky I told her, sure, bring it on! And since I already knew something about Katie and Katie’s Premium Beef Jerky, having had it before, (spoiler alert!!) this will be a slam dunk, positive review. Well, I was right about the positive part- the jerky is first rate! But not so much with the slam dunk part. I wanted to be unique! Different! Unusual! Creative! A jerky reviewing master! I wanted to own the jerky and make it my…… well, okay, you get the drift! So I started thinking and decided that I didn’t want the usual, “take a bite, taste and review” review. I wanted to show you, my It’s a Fiery World audience, what makes this jerky special, and so much more than the myriad of brands you see at the mega-mart. So yes, we’ll talk about the products themselves, but also about Katie, the company, and how I like to experiment in the kitchen.
First, the review. Katie has a full lineup of “original” beef and bison jerky, and flavored pineapple jerky. She uses an excellent cut of meat, lean and savory. But what I didn’t find is a lot of tough stringy, hard to eat, tendon and fat. This stuff is easy to eat. It is slightly thicker than run of the mill products, with a very pleasing texture, so it feels good in your mouth. Regardless of flavor profile, the jerky is consistently tender without turning to mush in your mouth. This allows the flavors to escape evenly and fully, making your mouth happy, and your teeth not feeling as though they’d just gone 10 rounds with Clubber Lang! I have tried the original and several other flavors, and regardless of flavor (think original, spicy, more spicy, extra spicy, and holy crap, this stuff has some heat! spicy), the underlying flavor of the meat is preserved, while taking advantage of the various flavors and heat levels. There’s just enough onion, just enough garlic, and just enough of Katie’s special spice blends to make anyone smile. And at around 250mg of sodium (give or take a little), it’s not overly salty, which is a big beef with me. I don’t want to wake up after a jerky eating fest with fingers and ankles that feel like they’re stuffed sausages! I also had the Bison Jerky, and I love that big, full flavor of good, lean bison meat. I actually like bison more than regular “cow”, so having that option is an extra treat! I do wish the bison was available in more flavors! And she has recently teamed up with the Sauce Goddess, Jennifer Reynolds, and added some new, exotic flavors to the jerky lineup, using the Sauce Goddess’s spice profiles! I tasted some in Arizona, and man oh man, was it awesome!
I wanted to play with Katie’s products, so I decided to transform them and use them incommon recipes. Let’s start with the jerky. The pictures give is away, but I first made fajitas with the original beef and bison jerky. And it was a super easy recipe. I took a couple of packs of jerky and cut the pieces into long fajita strips. Next, I dumped a bottle of Born to Hula’s Smokin’ Pineapple sauce (alas, no longer in production) all over the meat, put it in the frig, and let it sit all day. By dinnertime, I had sufficiently rehydrated the meat and took in some of the flavors of the marinade, which added a little sweetness and smokiness that I enjoyed. Of course, you could use any vehicle for a marinade, so let your imagination and taste buds be your guide. I sautéed up some onions and peppers, added the meat to heat it up and blend the flavors (it is fully cooked, remember), and voila! Fajitas were born. The hardest thing about it was cutting up the onion! So hard it made me cry! (sorry…couldn’t resist!) My wife and my youngest gave me a big thumbs up, and I gave Katie’s beef and bison an even bigger thumbs up! Actually using the jerky in recipes helped me to appreciate the quality and inherent tenderness in the cut of beef and bison Katie uses. By the way, this is a great recipe to use for extended camping or backpacking trips.
Now for the pineapple. I know what you’re thinking- how is pineapple jerky different than plain ol’ dried pineapple? Cause that’s what I thought. But here’s the thing- regular dried pineapple almost always has added sugars that turn it more into candy than simple dried fruit, and I’m not into all that extra sugar. So Katie’s pineapple, available in brown sugar and a myriad of other fun flavors (orange, pina colada, and cherry were the ones I tried), is a great, sweet snack alternative. Katie takes great care in getting the pineapple to a nice texture and consistency. It may be a little chewier than regular dried fruit, but I didn’t have any problems, and I don’t consider that a negative in the least. But it’s also more tender than some fruit leathers, and it’s not blended into a mush that is dried almost hard. Simply put, I really like it and it has lots of uses! What uses, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked, cause we’re going to take a journey into my culinary creative side.
I needed to make a dessert for a work Christmas party, so I made pineapple jerky upside down cupcakes with a cinnamon cayenne brown sugar butter creme icing! I didn’t rehydrate anything, and used a pineapple upside down cake mix, and a brown sugar and butter mixture. I lined the bottom of the cupcake tins with the brown sugar/butter mixture and then added a piece of Katie’s spicy brown sugar flavored pineapple and a piece of cherry flavored pineapple. Add in the batter and top with a few diced pieces of the orange flavored pineapple jerky, and bake like normal! Delish! I added the icing and my co-workers devoured them! One take away for next time – the jerky wasn’t rehydrated first, so it was chewier than i would’ve liked (it is jerky, after all), so I would dice the pineapple and simply add it to the batter. I’d still get the desired flavors while getting a better texture and pineapple bite with each cupcake. But that’s a minor thing. I had a lot of fun playing with Katie’s beef, bison, and pineapple, and have nothing but praise for Katie’s lineup of products. They are rock stars in the world of jerky!
In closing, let me speak briefly about Katie’s Premium Beef Jerky as a company. Her back story is inspiring, and I don’t have time here to give you all the detail, since this article has already run pretty long (couldn’t help it- I had too much fun and enjoyed the jerky too much to just write a brief, “Spark Note” review). But long story short, she started like so many artisan, small batch, food entrepenuers, making jerky for her own pleasure and for friends. She received so much encouragement that she started selling, and fast forward a bunch of years, and here we are- a hard-working, passionate woman with a vision and a great product selling her passion full time! It’s fun talking with Katie, as her passion and excitement for her products and her company show in every conversation, whether it’s in person, or via email or text.
So go to www.katiesbeefjerky.com and load up! You won’t regret it and tell them I sent you! Because, we all know, that food is meant to be fun and yes, Virginia, it is a Fiery World!
When I was approached by the Bic Corporation to review their portable grilling gizmo, the FlameDisk®, I tried to visualize a whole bunch of plastic lighters taped to a plate flying through the air at a rock concert! Okay, so I date myself, but I burnt many a finger holding my lighter up proudly at rock concerts, thank you very much! But I digress. This cool and groovy barbecue enhancing, nifty, swifty, pyro based product can take the dirty mess and hassle out of your next tailgate grilling experience. So sit back and enjoy this unique visit with the Bic ™ FlameDisk®!
As you can see from the picture, the FlameDisk® is just that – a flat disk with holes that you place in the bottom of your grill and light in place of charcoal! The holes allow the flames of this Bic™ to flick your pre-game load of burgers, dogs, chicken, steak, or whatever it is you decide to grill up on game day, picnic day, or heck, just any old day! I found the instructions simple and the FlameDisk® even simpler than that- downright intuitive!
The instructions say to allow a four minute warm-up to achieve 40 minutes of cooking time, and then a 10 minute cool down after the flame goes out (which you can force by covering the Disk), and I found that to be pretty much true. This baby lives up to the reputation of its much smaller, but iconic older uncle, the Bic™ lighter! It is simple, effective, and disposable. Not having to deal with the mess associated with using charcoal briquettes, and right off the bat, the FlameDisk® gets 5 Fiery Worlds for convenience in lieu of charcoal.
It grilled the chicken and burgers without issue, and I had a little heat left for some veggies, had I been in the mood! I quickly learned that if you don’t have it level, the “fuel” they use distributes unevenly, giving you an uneven heat and more pronounced flames on one side of the disk. My tabletop grill isn’t round, and that was an issue for me trying to keep the disk level. I managed to adjust it for the most part, but I did have to shift the food around a couple of times to keep from scorching. The Flavor is not dissimilar to what you’d get with a gas grill, but I might experiment and put some wood chips on the disk the next time to get a better wood-fire, charcoal flavor. The only other real observation is that there isn’t an effective way to extinguish flare-ups without jeopardizing your flame, but if you’re babysitting your grilled gastric gridiron delights, you can manage and adjust! So it gets 3 Fiery Worlds for flavor, but another 5 Fiery Worlds for novelty, portability, and ingenuity! I’ve already rated it a 5 Fiery Worlds in convenience.
According to their website, the FlameDisk® sells for $4.99 list price, which isn’t a bad price for the huge convenience factor, and when I did some web searching, found it on sale at many locations. At time of posting, they also offered a $2.00 off coupon! So before the next big game, don’t battle your grill! Try out Bic’s new FlameDisk® and save those heated battles for the gridiron!!! And remember, Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s A Fiery World!